“The Secrets of the Black Arts” (remaster) by Dark Funeral

Artist: Dark Funeral
Title: “The Secrets of the Black Arts” (remaster)
Label: Regain Records
Release Date: 7/31/2007
Genre: Black Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

Originally released in 1996, “The Secrets Of The Black Arts” is the debut album and introduction to the world of the Swedish Black Metal kings Dark Funeral. As an album its content is very straightforward and perhaps a little too similar in overall style but one can forgive the band with their first official release. They do set the standard of the sound they will eventually hold some mastery over with tracks like the albums title and “When Angels Forever Die”. Of course like most pure and true Black Metal this is a sound that is not easily acceptable or recommended for everyone. The required levels of blasphemy are present in songs like “Satan’s Mayhem” and even the ludicrous by today’s standards “Satan’s Blood”. This latter track is just yelling the word “Satan” over some riffs and when one considers how much the genre has grown since it’s inception it comes off as rather comical. I enjoyed the pummeling nature of “Shadows Over Transylvania” and “Bloodfrozen” but with the bands first album there was far too many similarities in the tracks. At times it is almost difficult to determine where one song begins and where the other has ended. Over the years they changed this up a bit and have managed to even hold a somewhat symphonic quality to their sound even thought there is no keyboards in the lineup. The lineup is also something that will be a mystery to today’s fan as the album finds Lord Ahriman (guitars), Blackmoon (guitars/some vocals), Themgoroth (bass/vocals) and Equimanthorn (drums) making up its core. In today’s Dark Funeral roster (2008) we only find Lord Ahriman present. As an album this is a good one to have to know more about the bands earliest go at the format and the re-master features a booklet loaded with the arcane lyrics that make this a powerful Black Metal force. There are also photos of the band in all of their Satanic glory in corpse paint and sinister situations to enjoy. From the very beginning it was clear that Dark Funeral were a band who meant business.

CD: Shadows Over Transylvania, The Dawn No More Rises, The Secrets Of The Black Arts, Satan’s Mayhem, Bloodfrozen, My Dark Desires, Dark Are The Path To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal), The Fire Eternal.

*** The bonus CD with the remaster of “The Secret Of The Black Arts” will come as quite the treat to the rabid Dark Funeral fan for it features the entire original recording of this same album as it was done under the production eye of Dan Swano at Unisound Studios. Essentially, the band felt that the entire recording came out below the standard they wanted for a number of reasons and with that being said they went on to re-record the album with Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy/Bloodbath). It’s great to have something being released officially many years after it had been making its rounds as a highly sought after bootleg and in some sense it completes the hard core fans investigation into the bands early years. Musically the album is the same but the sonic levels in the production are vastly different when one compares the two. The Swano production is far rawer and perhaps even a little more in your face than the one we found released by the band in 1996. I will say that its more aggressive based on this raw sound and that to its detriment some instruments are too far back in the mix. There are three less tracks on this one but in the end it is still nice to have it being presented on its own as opposed to being hidden by the band and finding people with ill intent making money off of them by circulating it on their own.

Track Listing:
1. The Dark Ages Has Arrived
2. The Secrets Of The Black Arts
3. My Dark Desires
4. The Dawn No More Rises
5. When Angels Forever Die
6. The Fire Eternal
7. Satan’s Mayhem
8. Shadows Over Transylvania
9. Bloodfrozen
10. Satanic Blood
11. Dark Are The Path To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)

Official Website: www.darkfuneral.se

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